Skip to comments.A series of reflections from St. Peter Julian Eymard Blessed Sacrament(Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 02/24/2007 11:03:07 AM PST by stfassisi
A series of reflections from St. Peter Julian Eymard on the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament Saint Paul expressed a wish to the Ephesians that, through the grace of the Father from Whom proceeds every gift, they should know the charity of Jesus Christ for men, "which surpasseth all knowledge." He could not wish them anything holier, or better, or more important. To know the charity of Jesus Christ, to be filled with the fullness of it, that is the reign of God in man. And that reign is the fruit of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, living and loving us in the Most Blessed Sacrament. This devotion is the sovereign worship of love. It is the soul and center of all religion; for religion is merely the law, the virtue, and the perfection of love; and the Sacred Heart is the grace, the model, and the life of it. Let us study this love close to the fire where it consumes itself for us.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart has a twofold object: it honors first with adoration and public worship the Heart of flesh of Jesus Christ, and secondly the infinite love with which this Heart has burned for us since its creation, and with which it is still consumed in the Sacrament of our altars.
Of all the noble faculties of the human body, the noblest is the heart. It is placed in the center of the body like a king in the center of his dominions. Immediately surrounding it are its most important members, which are, so to speak, its ministers. It sets them in motion and makes them function by imparting to them the vital warmth of which it is the reservoir. It is the fountainhead from which there gushes forth with impetuosity the blood that flows into all the parts of the body, and bathes and refreshes them. Weakened by this function, the blood returns from the extremities of the body to the heart to rekindle its ardor and receive a new supply of life-giving energy.
What is true of the human heart in general is also true of the adorable Heart of Jesus Christ. It is the noblest part of the body of the Man-God, united hypostatically to the Word and deserving thereby the supreme worship of adoration which is due God alone. It is important that in our veneration we should not separate the Heart of Jesus from the divinity of the Man-God; for it is united to the divinity with indissoluble bonds, and the worship we pay to the Heart has not its final end in that Heart, but in the adorable Person Who possesses it and Who has united it to Himself forever.
Whence it follows that we may direct to this divine Heart the prayers, praises, and adorations we offer to God Himself. And it also follows that they are mistaken who, on hearing the words "The Heart of Jesus," think only of the material organ and look on this Heart only as a lifeless and loveless member, much as they would a holy relic. They again are mistaken who imagine that this devotion divides Jesus Christ and restricts to His Heart alone a worship that ought to be offered to His whole Person. They overlook the fact that to honor the Heart of Jesus is not to ignore the rest of the divine body of the God-Man; for when we honor His Heart, we mean to praise all the actions and the whole life of Jesus Christ, which are but an outpouring of His Heart.
Just as it is in the sun that are formed and from it that issue forth the warm rays which fertilize the earth and give life to everything that lives, so it is from the heart that come forth the strong and gentle impulses which carry vital warmth and vigor into all the members. If the heart weakens, the whole body weakens with it. If the heart suffers, all the members suffer with it; nothing functions well, and the organic system soon stops working. The function of the Heart of Jesus was then to quicken, to strengthen, and to sustain all His members, all His organs, and all His senses by its constant action; so that it was the principle of the actions, affections, virtues and of the whole life of the Word made flesh.
For the heart, according to the opinion of ancient philosophers, is the seat of love; and since the prime motive of the whole life of Jesus was love, we must look upon His Heart as the source of all His mysteries and virtues. "Just as it is natural for fire to burn," says Saint Thomas, "so it is natural for the heart to love; and because the heart is the primary organ of feeling in man, it is fitting that the act which is commanded by the first of all the commandments should be felt by the heart."
Just as the eyes see and the ears hear, so the heart loves. It is the organ of the soul in the production of affection and love. In the vernacular, heart and love are interchangeable terms; heart means love, and vice versa. The Heart of Jesus was, therefore, the organ of His love; it was the principle and seat of it. It experienced all the impressions of love that can touch a human heart, with this difference, however, that since the soul of Jesus Christ loved with an unparalleled and infinite love, His Heart is a real furnace of love for God and for us. From it are constantly darting forth the most ardent and purest flames of divine love. This love inflames His Heart from the first moment of His conception until His last breath and, since His Resurrection, has not ceased nor will ever cease doing so. His Heart made and is daily making countless acts of love, a single one of which gives more glory to God than all of the acts of love of the angels and saints. Of all material creatures, His Heart is then the one that contributes the most to the glory of the Creator and that is the most deserving of the love and worship of angels and men.
Everything that pertains to the Person of the Son of God is infinitely worthy of veneration. The least portion of His Body, the tiniest drop of His blood is deserving of the adoration of heaven and earth. The most worthless things become worthy of veneration by mere contact with His flesh, as was the case with the Cross, the nails, the thorns, the sponge, the lance and all the instruments of His death. How much greater veneration, therefore, ought we to offer to His Heart, the excellence of which is founded on the nobleness of the functions it performs, on the perfection of the sentiments it gives rise to, and of the actions it inspires! For if Jesus was born in a stable, lived as a poor man at Nazareth, and died for our sake, we owe it to His Heart; it is in the sanctuary of His Heart that were formed all the heroic resolutions and all the plans which inspired His life. His Heart must therefore be honored as the Crib in which the faithful soul sees Jesus being born into the world, poor and forsaken; as the pulpit from which the Lord Jesus preaches His commandment to her: "Learn of Me that I am meek and humble of heart"; as the Cross on which she sees Him rise glorious and immortal; and as the everlasting Gospel by which she is taught to imitate all the virtues of which this Heart is the accomplished model.
A soul devoted to the Sacred Heart will, however, apply herself in a special manner to the practice of divine love, because this Heart is above all the seat and the symbol of this love. And since the Most Blessed Sacrament is the sensible and permanent token of divine love, it is there the soul will find the Heart of Jesus; from His Eucharistic Heart she will learn to love.
Since Jesus Christ desires to be loved unceasingly by man, He must show him an unceasing love; and as God, in order to overcome and conquer our hearts, had to become a man whom we could feel and touch, so in order to make His conquest secure, He must continue to make man feel a sensible and humanized love. The law of love is perpetual, and so also must be the grace of it. This sun of love must never set on the heart of man; if it does, a chill will settle on man's heart, and the coldness of death and of neglect will kill it. The human heart gives itself only to life and unites itself only to an actual love which is felt and which furnishes actual proofs of its reality.
Well, all the love of the Savior in His mortal life, His love as a child in the Crib, His zealous love as an apostle of His Father in His preaching, His love as a Victim on the Cross, all these loves are gathered together and are triumphant in His Heart, glorious and living in the Blessed Sacrament. That is where we should seek this Heart and nourish ourselves with its love. It is also in heaven, but for the angels and saints. It is in he Eucharist for us. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart must therefore be Eucharistic; it must concentrate in the divine Eucharist as in the only personal and living center of the love and the graces of the Sacred Heart for men.
Why separate the Heart of Jesus from His body and divinity? Is it not through His Heart that He lives in the Blessed Sacrament, and that His body is alive and animated? Having risen from the dead, Jesus dies no more; why separate His Heart from His Person and try to make Him die, so to speak, in our mind? No, no! This divine Heart is living and palpitating in the Eucharist, no longer of a passible and mortal life, subject to sadness, agony, and pain, but of a life risen and consummated in blessedness. This impossibility to suffer and die diminishes in no way the reality of His life; on the contrary, it makes that life more perfect. God has never known death, and still He is the source of perfect and eternal life.
The Heart of Jesus therefore lives in the Eucharist, since His body is alive there. It is true that we can neither feel nor see that divine Heart, but things are pretty much the same for all men. This principle of life must be mysterious and veiled; to uncover it would kill it. We can conclude to its existence only from the effects it produces. A man does not ask to see the heart of a dear friend; one word is enough to tell him of his love. But how will the divine Heart of Jesus make itself known? It manifests itself to us by the sentiments with which it inspires us; that should suffice. Besides, who could contemplate the beauty and the goodness of the divine Heart? Who could stand the brightness of its glory, the consuming and devouring flames of this fire of love? Who would dare look at this divine Ark, on which is written its gospel of love in letters which its love has its throne, and its goodness all its treasures? Who would want to penetrate into the very sanctuary of the Godhead? The Heart of Jesus! Why, it is the heaven of heavens, in which God Himself dwells and finds His delights!
No! We do not see the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus! But we possess it; it is ours!
Do you want to know what is its life? It is divided between His Father and us. This Heart watches over us; while our Savior, enclosed in the frail Host, seems wrapped in impotent sleep, His Heart remains awake. Ego dormio, et Cor meum vigilat. "I sleep, and My Heart watcheth." It watches over us whether we think of it or not; it knows no rest; it pleads with the Father to forgive us. Jesus shields us with His Heart and wards off the blows of divine wrath provoked by our repeated offenses. His Heart is there, as on the Cross, opened and letting flow upon our heads torrents of grace and love.
It is there to defend us against our enemies, just as a mother to save her child from danger presses it to her heart so that one cannot strike the child unless he strikes the mother first. "And even if a mother could forget her child," Jesus tells us, "I will never forsake you."
The other concern of the Heart of Jesus is for His Father. He adores His Father through His unspeakable humiliations, through His adoration of self-abasement; He praises Him and thanks Him for the blessings He bestows upon men, His brothers; He offers Himself as a Victim to the justice of His Father; He prays incessantly for the Church, for sinners, and for all the souls He has redeemed.
O God the Father, look down with complacency on the Heart of Thy Son, Jesus! See His love, listen to His prayers, and may the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus be our salvation!
The reasons for which the feast of the Sacred Heart was instituted and the manner in which Jesus manifested His Heart teach us that we ought to honor it in the Eucharist, and that we shall find it therein with all its love.
Saint Margaret Mary received the revelation of the Sacred Heart before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Jesus manifested Himself to her in the Host, showing her His Heart and saying to her these adorable words, the most eloquent commentary on His presence in this Sacrament: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men!"
And our Lord, appearing to Venerable Mother Mechtilda (1614-1698), foundress of a society of women-adorers (The Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration), commanded her to love ardently and honor as much as she could His Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacrament. And He gave it to her as a pledge of His love, to be her refuge in life and her consolation at the hour of death.
The purpose of the feast of the Sacred Heart is to honor with more fervor and devotion the suffering love of Jesus Christ as He instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
To enter into the spirit of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, we must therefore honor the past sufferings of the Savior and make reparation for the ingratitude with which He is daily overwhelmed in the Eucharist.
Great indeed were the afflictions of the Heart of Jesus! Every kind of trial fell upon Jesus. He was weighted down with humiliations; He was assailed with the most revolting calumnies and disgraced in every possible way; He was loaded down with opprobrium and crushed with every form of contempt. But, in spite of everything, "He offered because it was His own will, and He opened not His mouth." His love was stronger than death, and torrents of desolation could not quench its flame. His sufferings are now over; but since Jesus bore them for our sake, our gratitude must have no end. Our love must honor them as if they were taking place before our eyes. The Heart which endured them with so much love is here in the Blessed Sacrament; it is not dead, but living and active; not insensible, but still more affectionate.
Jesus can no longer suffer, it is true; but alas! man can still be guilty towards Him of monstrous ingratitudes. These ingratitudes toward God Who is present and living among us to win our love, are the greatest offense to the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Man is indifferent to this supreme gift of love of Jesus for him. He does not take account of it; or if he must occasionally think of it, when, for instance, Jesus tries to shake him out of his torpor he does so only to drive out such a troublesome thought. He does not care for the love of Jesus Christ.
More than that! When urged on by his faith, by the remembrance of his Christian education, and by the God-sent impulse in his heart to adore Jesus Christ as his Lord in the Eucharist and to return to His service, impious man rebels against this dogma, the most lovable of all. He will even deny the truth of it and apostasize so as to be freed from the obligation of adoring it, of sacrificing to it some idol or passion, of breaking shameful bonds.
We see Christians despise Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and show contempt for the Heart which has so loved them and which consumes itself with love for them. To spurn Him freely they take advantage of the veil that hides Him.
They insult Him with their irreverences, their sinful thoughts, and their criminal glances in His presence. To express their disdain for Him they avail themselves of His patience, of the kindness that suffers everything in silence as it did with the impious soldiery of Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate.
They blaspheme sacrilegiously against the God of the Eucharist. They know that His love renders Him speechless.
They crucify Him even in their guilty souls. They receive Him. They dare take this living Heart and bind it to a foul corpse. They dare deliver it to the devil who is their lord!
No! Never even in the days of His Passion has Jesus received so many humiliations as in His Sacrament! Earth for Him is a Calvary of ignominy.
In His agony He sought a consoler; on the Cross He asked for someone to sympathize with His afflictions. Today, more than ever, we must make amends, a reparation of honor, to the adorable Heart of Jesus. Let us lavish our adorations and our love on the Eucharist. To the Heart of Jesus living in the Most Blessed Sacrament be honor, praise, adoration, and kingly power for ever and ever!
"O God the Father, look down with complacency on the Heart of Thy Son, Jesus! See His love, listen to His prayers, and may the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus be our salvation!"
For a long time I have had a special devotion for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. I had read much of this saint's writing but somehow missed the above quote. Which is a great shame, for it is beautiful. I will use it in my daily prayers.